Due to all the previous travel disruptions I had missed my train back to Scotland and so the parents booked me a flight for the next day. I was not ready to leave London - I felt really at home here and as soon as I hit the ground in Orkney my Kilimanjaro adventure would be over.
Gatwick was half an hour from Heather's flat on the train but I was still in Africa time and Heather thought my flight was later than it was so we were already cutting it fine when I woke up. I would arrive at Gatwick 15 minutes before my gate closed but I headed there thinking I might actually still catch the flight. When I got there I had only ten minutes and rushed to the Easyjet bag drop but my heart sank when the man said I was in the wrong terminal. I was sure I'd followed the right signs but alas not. At this point I broke down in tears while waiting for the shuttle train to the other terminal. There had been so many problems getting home that the frustration finally got to me.
When at the right terminal I was annoyed as my flight didn't leave for another half hour yet I wouldn't get through security in that time. I went to the sales reservation desk and there was a nice woman there who probably saw my red eyes and smudged eyeliner. She booked me onto the next flight to Aberdeen for only £50 extra - luckily I had my Dad's emergency Singapore dollars to exchange. The flight wasn't until 08:25 the next day so after a sobby phonecall to my parents I got my boat to Orkney changed and booked myself into the airport Premier Inn which was a 5 minute walk away - just incase.
So there I was still stuck somewhere but I was glad I had another day in London to say goodbye. Liz and Ruth Flett - fellow hockey players from Orkney- were on the same flight as I was meant to be on and said my name was called several times over the speaker system - I've always tried so hard to avoid that happening. I got showered and changed before heading into London for one last time, more specifically I wanted to head into the Scandinavian Kitchen again for some Kladdkaka but by the time I got there they had sold out! I wandered around aimlessly for a while and saw a woman carrying a massive wooden giraffe like the ones sold in roadside shops in Africa and then on the train back to Gatwick the woman next to me was listening to Hero by Enrique Inglsias which was a favourite of William - one of the Kilimanjaro guides. It all got me a bit nostalgic.
The next day I was up at 5am just to ensure I was on time for my 8:25 flight. I had an amazing full english breakfast - the English REALLY need to discover tattie scones- and went a walk to the airport with all my luggage. This time I rolled through security and got on the plane. I was relieved to just get to Aberdeen - which rarely happens. It is never usually a joy to see the boat back to Orkney as it means there is a torturous seven hour journey coming up but at this point I was just excited to arrive at my destination. Now this should have gone plain sailing (pun) but as we were crossing near Fraserburgh the boat made a rapid U-turn. Things were falling off tables and everyone was rushing to the windows to see what was going on. There was talk of someone jumping over the side but from this distance you couldn't see anyone in the water. They were right though as lifeboats were deployed and went in search of someone/something. There was no announcement except for all staff to go to the Bridge but the passengers were clicking on to what was happening. The boat found the man and heaved him onto the deck and started CPR but if you had seen the body you knew he was already dead. I was sitting next to a -heavily pregnant- Resusitation doctor who went out to assist while the air ambulance arrived. The air ambulance came from Fraserburgh and took the body away and then just like that we headed away again. It was so bizarre - I don't think that's every happened before and it was pretty traumatic for anyone on board. The man died later in Fraserburgh infirmary and it was an expected suicide as apparently he was alone on board and witnesses said he looked pretty shaken up on board.
Finally I was back home reunited with my beloved dog and my final destination. It felt like quite an achievement overcoming gastroenteritis, 1 cancelled flight, 2 missed flights, one missed train and one missed boat.